Hidden Orchestra join Minority Records

Hidden Orchestra join Minority Records

Prague-based indie games company Amanita Design released their new puzzle adventure Creaks this summer. This time they enlisted the help of Joe Acheson (aka Hidden Orchestra) to create the soundtrack, following in the footsteps of the duo DVA and Joe’s long-time friend and collaborator Tomáš Dvořák (Floex). For Joe this was a new challenge, which he was able to meet with an outsider’s perspective on the gaming music tradition, as a non-gamer doing his first soundtrack. In this brain-teasing game, players may have to restart levels several times, and the duration of each level depends on each player’s speed at finding the solutions. In order to avoid listener fatigue caused by constantly restarting and looping pieces of music, Joe decided to create an endless ‘living soundtrack’, using software primarily designed for sound effects and atmospheres. By creating numerous variations for every part played by every instrument, and choosing between them using randomised conditional logic, the game’s music is self-generating and infinite, with constantly varying arrangements - while each piece is clearly recognisable, it will never sound exactly the same twice.
The player’s progress through the game also controls the structure of the music, as each piece moves through its sections as the stages of each puzzle are solved. Joe also wanted to reflect Amanita’s trademark marriage of beautiful hand-drawn artwork with technology, which fits neatly with his own approach of using only real instruments and musicians, but treating them with production techniques from sample-based music in order to create an imaginary orchestra.
"Each of the characters in the game is represented by a different instrument – for example, a selection of different zithers for the main hero character. The genres of music in the game reflect the progression through time in the game's artwork" reveals Joe Acheson himself. The musical mosaic on Creaks is very diverse and offers a broad creative spread, which bears the recognisable handwriting of Hidden Orchestra. It offers a kaleidoscope from minimalist improvisations for solo piano, through more diverse orchestrations for winds and strings, to conceptual compositions driven in an electronic background. "We start in a primitive world, where the music is mostly created from simple ancient styles of instruments (zithers, flutes, percussion) and some home-made instruments (tunable chimes made from a deconstructed glockenspiel, a harp made from an egg-slicer). Then we go into a gothic/baroque world, filled with bells, organs and choirs. Then a Classical world, dominated by pianos and strings, and an Electronic world filled with textures, rhythms, bass lines and melodies created on a modular synth, finally ending up in a futuristic dark magical world full of bass clarinet”.
Whilst playing the majority of instruments on the record himself (including piano, basses, zithers, analog synth, flutes, percussion, harmonium and many more), Joe most prominently features the newest members of Hidden Orchestra on this release - Jack McNeill (clarinet, bass clarinet) and Rebecca Knight (cello) - and did not hesitate to enlist his traditional collaborators Tim Lane and Jamie Graham (drums) and Poppy Ackroyd (violin), with brief cameo appearances from Yvo Ackroyd Acheson (shakers), Ali Tocher (bells, zither-box percussion), Su-a Lee (cello), Phil Cardwell (trumpet), and the aforementioned Tomáš Dvořák (clarinet).

Creaks Soundtrack is the fourth full-length studio album from Hidden Orchestra, following Night Walks (2010), Archipelago (2012), and Dawn Chorus (2017). Other notable releases include Reorchestrations (2015), a collection of Joe’s reworkings of mainly classical and folk musicians, 2016’s Wingbeats EP, and several volumes of remixes of Hidden Orchestra material by an extremely diverse array of artists. The powerful and virtuosic live show has toured dozens of countries over the last decade, performing hundreds of shows with a fluctuating lineup of guest players and arresting live visuals.

Manon Meurt present the single Mirrors from their upcoming albumPlay

Manon Meurt present the single Mirrors from their upcoming album

Manon Meurt once again joined forces with a strong producer personality, and the new song was created under the baton of the British musician and producer Eddie Stevens who is known for his collaboration with Moloko, Zero 7 or Róisín Murphy.

“Eddie’s approach included splitting our songs into individual fragments. We recorded each fragment with a different sound setup for the instruments and then we combined them together again to get the final form. Our collaboration was creative, unpredictable and constantly evolving, same as the result that we’re releasing in April 2024 and that we’ll follow up with a series of concerts. Thanks to Eddie, we’ve ventured into places as a band, where no one would have probably expected us a few years ago. We’ve learned to have a truly original approach to our music that is not specific to any single genre,” the keyboard player David Tichý says.

The single as well as the whole upcoming album were recorded in the Svárov studio owned by Lukáš Martínek. The mix was done by Stevens himself in the Rancid Mead Sorbet Studios in London, mas-tering was taken care of by Darius van Helfteren (De Staat and others) in the Dutch studio Amster-dam Mastering.

“It was David who came up with the harmony idea and gradually we each composed our part. The original idea was for an instrumental song, that’s why I came with something like a whispered mantra, however, the dynamics was gradually increasing. Generally, we tend to describe moments rather than stories in our lyrics. Mirrors captures that silent moment just before dawn when the moon and the sun change guards and people open themselves up all the way in what they say—mirror-like they reflect each other,” the author of the text, multi-instrumentalist and singer Kateřina Elznicová adds.

View More
Bingriwingri and Šero by Bratři Orffové (The Orff Brothers) released on vinylPlay

Bingriwingri and Šero by Bratři Orffové (The Orff Brothers) released on vinyl

Landmark albums of the Czech alternative music scene, Bingriwingri and Šero (Low Light) by Bratři Orffové (The Orff Brothers), have been remastered and were released on vinyl.

The original recordings have been carefully remastered by Matouš Godík (Floex, Hidden Orchestra)—former member of the band—and the original graphic design has been reworked by designer Jirka Libánský. The albums have been pressed on an audiophile 180-gram vinyl at Schallplattenfabrik Pallas in Germany.

Almost no other band resonates as much ten years after the release of their last album. And Bratři Orffové are not exactly generous with their live performances. Nonetheless, they are still gaining new fans and the story of Serža Vantóš is an interesting one for listeners across all generations.

“It would be very difficult to find a Czech band that could so naturally succeed in the international competition in their genre while being so relentless in their refusal to tour abroad. Bratři Orffové give the impression that even Prague is too big for them, and their aesthetics remains firmly rooted in their hometown of Krnov. Serža Vantóš, the hero of their songs, is a typical example of a small-town man: for one thing, he distrusts the world around him because he doesn’t understand it, and for another, he deals with life situations by putting them into a context that’s familiar to him,” wrote Dominik Zezula (post-hudba) in 2014 for the website Aktualne.cz.

The release of the group’s debut album Bingriwingri in 2005 was hailed as a significant event on the local alternative music scene, and this will be the first opportunity to enjoy the album on a classic black or amber 180-gram vinyl. It is not commonly known that several famous musicians from the Czechoslovak music scene collaborated on the album: Floex, Daniel Salontay (Longital), double bass player Petr Tichý, flutist and publicist Marian Jaslovský, guitarist Filip Míšek (Khoiba, Dikolson), and highly regarded pianist Jan Bartoš. Expres FM radio recently ranked Bingriwingri among the 50 best Czech albums.

Šero, the album released eight years after Bingriwingri, was no less groundbreaking. For the time being, it remains the final album by Bratři Orffové. It received both the Anděl Award and the Czech Critics’ Award Apollo for best album of 2013. Additionally, Bratři Orffové brought home the Anděl statuette for best band of the year. Šero was first released on vinyl in 2014 by the label Quazi Delict Records, but the current release is an excellent addition to the collection for owners of the first pressing. It is designed in classic black and smoky multicolour as a three-sided double LP on 180-gram vinyl for better sound quality. The core of Šero consists of lyrics by Ivan Gajdoš; the songs Sůl z Krnova (Salt from Krnov) and V záclonách (In Curtains) were written by Jakub König aka Kittchen and the text for Tunel (Tunnel) was by writer Jaroslav Rudiš.

View More
Zabelov Group dives into unchartered music waters on their new single DivePlay

Zabelov Group dives into unchartered music waters on their new single Dive

Three years after the release of the EP Madhouse Session, the Czech-Belarusian project Zabelov Group has come up with new material. As with the previous records, the new single Dive is released on the Czech label Minority Records. Mastering was provided by the respected Matouš Godík (Floex, Hidden Orchestra, and others).

“On Dive, we tried to find some sort of an organic meter-rhythmical shape that would have the potential to sound infinite,” accordionist Roman Zabelov says.

The track is shaped by the element of trance that comes from repetitive processes that evoke a dive into unchartered depths to the musicians. It was, therefore, only a small step to name the whole composition after this feeling.

“It was our fascination with patterns that came to the fore again. I mean fascination with simple repetitive patterns that are placed into the context of a different pattern. It gives rise to a feeling of evolution, or a story unfolding between the tones. You’d say that this is nothing new after the last couple of decades, but there’s always something to explore,” the trumpet player and drummer Jan Šikl adds.

Zabelov Group was formed in 2012 by the eternal music seekers Roman Zabelov (accordion, vocals, synthesizers) and Jan Šikl (drums, trumpet, guitar). Their work combines strong-grooved jazz with both acoustic and electronic music creating a distinctively atmospheric and even a cinematic whole. They released a home recording called 40 000 km followed by a live album Secret Session. Their regular debut was the album Eg (2018). In 2020, they released another live recording called Madhouse Session. They performed in Poland (Spring Break, Warsaw, Poznan), Germany, Netherland (ESNS), Italy, Slovenia (Ment Ljubljana) and even in the UK (Rich Mix London).

Jan Šikl is the author of music for the films Rekonstrukce okupace (Reconstruction of Occupation) and Jak jsem se stala partyzánkou (How I Became a Partisan). As an arranger, he collaborates with Floex Ensemble or Glorchestra. He composed music for Laterna Magika, 420People, Spitfire Company, Losers Company or JEDL. He is behind the music for many radio plays and audiobooks.

Roman Zabelov is finishing his PhD studies at the Prague Academy of Performing Arts (HAMU), where he is focusing on the topic of acoustic and amplified accordion. He is a part of the project of Spitfire Company and Berg Orchestra called Tak tiše až.

View More
Hidden Orchestra releases their new album Creaks: Bonus, Live & Remixes

Hidden Orchestra releases their new album Creaks: Bonus, Live & Remixes

Hidden Orchestra releases their new album Creaks: Bonus, Live & Remixes with their previously unreleased tracks, remixes and reworked compositions from the soundtrack to the award-winning platform game Creaks by the Amanita Design studio. The album is a follow-up to their record Creaks Soundtrack from 2020.

Hidden Orchestra is a project of the British composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer Joe Acheson. He works with various musical influences and invites a diverse range of artists to join in the production, only to create his “hidden orchestra”.

“So much great music was made for Creaks that it all just couldn’t fit on the original record. Even the fans noticed that, after all, they were missing several tracks from the game on the original soundtrack. It was Joe himself who came up with the idea at the beginning of the year. Originally, it was supposed to have been a collection of bonus tracks, but gradually, the concept took on a life of its own and resulted in a bigger and more interesting record,” Jakub Dvorský, the founder of Amanita Design, says.

Creaks: Bonus, Live & Remixes brings seven previously unreleased tracks from the original Creaks Soundtrack, two extensive reworked versions for a live band and seven remixes from diverse artists such as Floex, Poppy Ackroyd, Ben Lukas Boysen or ZKA4T.

The live versions of the compositions Bridges and Three Islands were recorded in May 2022 in the Luxembourgish monastery space Neimënster with the current line-up of the Hidden Orchestra consisting of Joe Acheson on the bass and electronics, Jamie Graham on the drums, the clarinettist Jack McNeil and the cellist Rebecca Knight. The studio mix was created by the engineer Tim Southorn. In the newest incarnation of the Hidden Orchestra, the emphasis is moving from a precise replica of studio tracks to focus on energy and emotions of the given material.

The game Creaks received both the award Czech Game of 2020 and Czech Game of the Year in the Audiovisual Design category, the Anifilm 2021 award for the best visual art in a computer game, the CEEGA 2020 award for games from Central and Eastern Europe for the best visual design. Creaks was nominated for the prestigious Golden Joystick Awards for best independent game and it received two nominations at the Brazilian gaming festival BIG Festival for best visual design and best story.

The compositions from Creaks will also be played at the concert of Hidden Orchestra at the EFG London Jazz Festival in the London Queen Elizabeth Hall on November 20.

View More
Singer-songwriter David Pomahač releases his second solo album Neviditelný todayPlay

Singer-songwriter David Pomahač releases his second solo album Neviditelný today

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist David Pomahač releases his second solo album, Neviditelný (Invisible) today via Minority Records. Martin Hůla (aka Martin "Bonus" Tvrdý) serves double duty as the album’s co-writer and producer.

"The best things in life are invisible," notes Pomahač. "The air we breathe, the stories written between the lines, love itself. Even inspiration is drawn from some intangible realm. Indeed, sometimes I am invisible to myself - hard to read, unaware of my own motivations, oblivious to the signs - but then I recognize myself in the telling of other people's stories. Neviditelný is a means of processing these stimuli."

Neviditelný was born out of studio improvisation with renowned musician and innovator Martin Hůla. It signals a new approach to Pomahač’s songwriting, relying less on guitar figures.

"From our very first collaboration, back in the Kieslowski era, I have wanted to do more with Martin. He's a genius. So I went to his studio once a week, nothing was pre-determined, and we wrote and recorded the music for the whole record together. I recorded the bass guitar and added lap steel guitar, then only synths - we avoided guitars. We played, improvised, looked for weird sounds and kicked ideas around," says Pomahač.

This time, David Pomahač took a new approach to writing. He didn't look for stimuli from his personal life; the lyrics were mainly inspired by single sentences from H.G. Wells' novels, dystopian science fiction or the stories of people around him. David Pomahač wove tales of self-preservation and the will to survive.

The eight-track album Neviditelný is accompanied by a video clip of the song Klaun (Clown) from director David Mencl with actresses Klára Issová and Sarah Haváčová, and featuring - as in the song Dlouhý (Long) - the violin of Jenovéfa Boková and cello of Marie Dorazilová.

A numbered vinyl version of Neviditelný - limited to 100 pieces - includes a bonus dub version of the record from the workshop of Martin Hůla, Petr Klouček and Tomáš Karásek aka Gaex, as well as a unique instant photo inscribed with a personalised message from Pomahač himself. Digital versions of the album and CD include the bonus track Bez konce (Without End).

View More